The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bharti eyes 30% market this fiscal

Mumbai, Sept. 3: After grabbing a sizeable chunk of the cellular market in western India, Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Teleservices, plans to achieve a 30 per cent market share by the end of the current fiscal.

“We have a 20 per cent market share now and we see this growing continuously till the end of the year to around 30 per cent,” Mittal said. He expect the Indian mobile market to nearly double to 12 million users by March next year from the 6.43 million at the end of March 2002.

Mittal, sporting a new tonsured look after his visit to the Balaji temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, said it was thanksgiving time for him as he had committed to do so after his company put up the infrastructure for its nationwide network.

According to Mittal, to make a mark in such a short time, in a city which is unforgiving and where there’s no second chance, was a humbling experience.

The company has registered a record number of 100,000 subscribers within 40 days of AirTel’s launch in Mumbai.

This is the fastest ever 1-lakh mark by any mobile operator in the country with others having taken between twelve months to two years to reach the same figure, company officials said. In Mumbai, Bharti’s rivals like BPL have taken as much as 29 months to reach the six-figure mark, while Orange and MTNL took 23 and 13 months respectively. AirTel, in comparison took just 40 days. AirTel has a market share of 7 per cent in Mumbai and 9 per cent in Maharashtra.

Satisfied by the initial success, Mittal said: “We played the role of a fourth operator very well. Our strategy of market expansion is working.”

Cellular industry circles have estimated the current size of the industry at 7.34 million mobile users at the end of June.

The Bharti group offers cellular services in 15 out of India’s 22 telecom circles and has more than two million cellular customers across the country.

However, Mittal said the company was some years away from turning in a net profit because of large depreciation on projects it was implementing.

“We may see net profit in 2005-06, or maybe a little earlier. But we’re not here to give dividends. We’re here to give growth. If I stopped growing today, I’ll be profitable in 12 months,” he declared.

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